Kyle Kuzma was surprised that Monte Morris wasn’t included in Rising Stars Challenge
The New York Knicks’ Dennis Smith, Jr. and Cleveland Cavalers’ Collin Sexton were considered by most as the two biggest “snubs” for Friday night’s Rising Stars Challenge. Both young point guards were drafted in the lottery, and have been earmarked as potential All-Stars since they were in high school. But another, largely unknown player who was considerably more deserving than either Smith or Sexton and also wasn’t selected for the event is Monte Morris.
On Saturday, after he paced the USA to a 161-144 victory by scoring a game-high 35 points en route to MVP honors, Los Angeles Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma agreed that the Denver Nuggets’ backup floor general was worthy of a spot.
“Yeah, you know what’s funny about that? I was warming up prior to the game on the Denver side, or the World side at least, and I went up to one of the coaches and said, ‘It’s crazy Monte didn’t get elected into this game, at least as a replacement for [Lonzo Ball],” Kuzma said, per the Denver Post’s Mike Singer. “I thought he had a great chance. He’s had a hell of a year this year. It seems like when he was starting he was really elevating and putting up crazy numbers, and those numbers translated to wins.”
Notoriety, unfortunately, plays an inevitable role in constructing the rosters for All-Star weekend events, and Morris is still unknown on the national stage even though he shouldn’t be. The 2017 second-round pick is averaging 10.8 points and 3.9 assists in just 25.0 minutes per game this season, coming off the bench behind talented guard Jamal Murray. Morris also leads the NBA in assist-to-turnover ratio, and is knocking down 43.1 percent of his three-point attempts.